Friday, September 14, 2012

The Dark Side of Academia

One has to wonder why an academician with the, um, credentials of Brooks D. Simpson is so obsessed with an informally organized Facebook social media history group that he must frequently post about them on his "history"/hockey/baseball blog...

The underlying message of his posts about the SHPG and various individual members is, "What a bunch of idiots." Oh, he doesn't use that terminology (but close to it, sometimes). But that's the message.

If they're as mistaken and as ineffective as he likes to portray, then what threat do they represent to the history memory/era/other stuff blogs? Nevertheless, these bloggers -- primarily Simpson, Hall, Levin and Meyer -- just have to blog their put-downs of these folks.

Brooks D. Simpson's latest attack on Gary Adams and the SHPG includes this:
The best way for the SHPG and its “action group” … the Southern Historical and Heritage Preservation Group … to fail is to allow Gary Adams to continue to post what he thinks is history. That will go far to discredit the group’s efforts. Godspeed to them as they speed forward to disaster.
If these people are so ineffective and speeding to disaster, why blog about them? Indeed, why consider them important enough to blog about? Why pay them any attention at all?

I have a theory about that. Academia is a lure for people who have to be always right -- so, naturally, to them, anyone who sees things differently is ... wrong.

But that's not enough for these, um, historians. They have to make sure everyone knows people who disagree with them are wrong. So they blog to their followers, identify the people who are wrong about history and give examples of the wrongness.

But even that is not enough. No, they can't just present the two viewpoints -- they have to denigrate, mock, scorn and excoriate those they deem wrong about history, and whip their followers and commenters into a similar frenzy of verbal clubbing. That is the truly interesting aspect of the memory/era/other stuff bloggers -- the apparent need to ridicule.

It's the dark side of academia.

The question is, why? Why these over-the-top WWE displays translated to the academic world and showcased on internet blogs?

Do they feel threatened in some way by folks like the SHPG, who are no threat to them whatever? I ask again, if the SHPG is so severely wrong, and disaster for them is inevitable, why pay them any attention at all?

Is it ego so gargantuan that it allows no differences of opinion? Or some kind of academic pecking order -- analogous to the behavior seen in groups of baby chicks or other birds who peck to death the weakest among them? (Not that people who disagree with these, um, history bloggers are weak, necessarily -- but that's how the history bloggers see them.) Sure looks that way, when you detect the frenzy behind attacks on folks who are absolutely no threat to the memory/era/other stuff history academicians....

Photo of baby chicks from the public domain.

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